It’s Christmas, no there’s no column today. But I’ll be back on Friday!
As the world celebrates Christmas, one has to wonder what we have to be thankful for: after all, war rages around the world. The liberty our forefathers died for has dissipated like mist in the heat of our perpetual "war on terrorism." Our political leaders are little more than criminals, who lie, cheat, steal – and kill – as readily as they breathe.
Thankful? Give me a break!
However, when you think about it for a moment, we do indeed have much to be grateful for this year, and I have to say that most of the glad tidings – to get in the holiday spirit here! – come to us by way of one person: Edward Snowden.
He is our Santa Claus, whose sleigh was weighed down by so many classified documents that he had to dump them off to a group of journalists before evading the Anti-Santa (that would be Obama) and landing in Russia (which, I hear, is near the North Pole). And oh what presents he brought us!
Hardly a day goes by without us benefiting from Snowden’s largesse, the chief perk being the sight of the entire political Establishment – not only the corrupt politicians but their equally venal servants in the "mainstream" media – in a veritable panic as the truth about America’s evolving police state is revealed for all to see.
Snowden sacrificed everything he had, the life he had – and it was a good one, from what I hear – so that we could know the truth about the Surveillance State that has been hiding right there in the wall, under the bed, lurking in our g—d—-n phones the whole time we thought we were citizens of the "freest" country on God’s green earth.
Now we know better, thanks to Snowden and his journalistic collaborators: we know we’re prisoners in a cybernetic Panopticon, and our overseers aren’t happy about that at all. The snakes slithering around in our grass are hissing Snowden’s a "traitor," an "agent of a foreign power," and worse.
This ought to be music to our ears, because it tells us who has to be laid low in the battle to take back our old republic. You can’t win the war if you don’t know who your enemies are, and by now they’ve all outed themselves – the pandering politicos, the craven lickspittles who call themselves "journalists," the Twitter trolls who yelp "He’s a Chinese agent!" "He’s a Russian agent!" "He’s an agent of the NSA!"
The award for the most ridiculous pro-NSA talking point of all is the "argument" made by Paul Carr, Mark Ames, and Yasha Levine that Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald have "privatized" and subsequently "monetized" the NSA documents. Greenwald, the major conduit of the Snowden revelations, has entered into a partnership with computer entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar to start First Look Media, which promises to serve as a model for the new independent journalism birthed in the blogs and now entering maturity. Omidyar’s substantial investment, in the eyes of the Carr-Ames-Levine Axis of Envy, amounts to Greenwald "profiteering."
This anti-"privatization" talking point is an odd argument for any journalist to make – after all, which of them doesn’t want to be paid for their work – but not at all surprising coming from the old crew at The Exile, a Russian tabloid formerly edited by Ames, a trash heap of pseudo-pornographic muck mixed with the ultra-nationalist ravings of Eduard Limonov. Rising up from the dregs of the Russian "punk" counterculture, Limonov was a sometime "avante garde" novelist who decided to become the leader of a Russian political faction – the National Bolshevik Party – which manages to combine both neo-Nazi and neo-communist themes in one repulsive package. Ames and Levine spent a lot of ink promoting Limonov, whose "radical" views are perfectly symbolized by his party’s official emblem: a Soviet-looking sickle twisted into a swastika-like design.
What does it mean to "privatize" a government-held secret? It can only mean revealing that secret to the public at large, which is precisely what Greenwald has done and First Look will be doing. Is this what the National Bolsheviks over at the Pando Times (or whatever it’s called) object to? What would they have Greenwald do? "De-privatization," in this case, would have to mean turning the documents back over to the US government. Thus does a National Bolshevik "nationalize" the NSA papers.
Lovers of liberty ought to be grateful for opponents such as these: it’s no accident that Ames and Levine have made careers out of attacking libertarianism. That’s because their Limonov-inspired ideology is a Bizarro World version of libertarianism, i.e. its polar opposite. Like libertarianism, National Bolshevism defies categorization in terms of "left" and "right" – but goes in another direction entirely. While Ames and Levine pay lip service to Western ideas of liberal democracy and free speech, in their de-Russified version of National Bolshevism to privatize anything is downright evil. And as for making money – well, you can forget it, buster, because Bolshevism means the Public must own the means of production, and that apparently includes the production of whistleblowers like Snowden and his journalistic allies.
Funny how closely this approximates the position of the US and British governments. Oh, but that’s just a coincidence: after all, Ames and Levine are real radical rrrrrr-revolutionary types, right? Why the heck would a "liberal" site like Pando Times, and two "radical" left types like Ames and Levine suddenly turn themselves into mouthpieces for the NSA?
A tantalizing question, to be sure, but I’m in the Christmas spirit here and you know what? It’s all good. If we libertarians didn’t have opponents like the Ames-Levin clown act, we’d have to invent them. Their torturous absurdities are sitting under our Christmas tree here at Antiwar.com, gift-wrapped and well appreciated.
Hey, it’s Christmas, and let’s not focus on the negative: yes, we have enemies, and plenty of them, but we are blessed with a lot of good friends, and many of them are new. For example, Justin Amash, the Michigan congressman whose principled stands on behalf of the Constitution and the rule of law have inspired many beyond his district to look to him for leadership. A measure initiated by Rep. Amash almost single-handedly defunded the NSA’s anti-constitutional assault on our liberties, and set the stage for the fight to rein in the rogue agency once and for all. We should be grateful that men of courage like that still exist, especially in the Congress of the United States – where they are a rare species indeed.
Speaking of Glenn Greenwald – his courage under constant fire demands admiration from friend and foe alike. I get such a kick out of watching him make mincemeat out of his and Snowden’s critics that it’s almost sinful: he really is an example to us all, especially to us writers. Whenever I see him on television or read something he has written I am invariably reminded of George Orwell’s "Politics and the English Language," the classic essay in which the great British author and prophet of our modern world deconstructed the perversion of language in the service of power. This is something Greenwald does in his own essays, challenging the usage of words like "terrorism" as a means to achieve political goals that have nothing to do with defending the nation – and everything to do with defending the perks, privileges, and power of the political class.
It is beyond outrageous that Greenwald cannot yet return to the United States with the knowledge that he won’t be hauled away to some dark hellhole by Homeland Security. Yes, folks – that’s how far down we’ve slid on the slippery slope to semi-authoritarian rule.
But you know what? Let them show themselves in this way. Let them come out of the closet, declaring for all the world to see what they really are – two-bit thugs who rule by force, by intimidation, and by lying through their gritted teeth when caught. Because the anger out here is building: a majority of Americans now say they think the biggest threat to their well-being and security is their own government.
Yes, folks – we’re winning. And that’s the best thing Santa could’ve given us. Which reminds me: a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.